God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II (Part Seven)
Have No Misgivings About the Trials of God
After receiving testimony from Job following the end of his trials, God resolved that He would gain a group—or more than a group—of people like Job, yet He resolved to never again allow Satan to attack or abuse any other person using the means by which it had tempted, attacked, and abused Job, by betting with God; God did not permit Satan to ever again do such things to man, who is weak, foolish, and ignorant—it was enough that Satan had tempted Job! Not permitting Satan to abuse people howsoever it wishes is the mercy of God. For God, it was enough that Job had suffered the temptation and abuse of Satan. God did not permit Satan to ever again do such things, for the lives and everything of people who follow God are ruled and orchestrated by God, and Satan is not entitled to manipulate God’s chosen ones at will—you should be clear about this point! God cares about man’s weakness, and understands his foolishness and ignorance. Although, in order that man could be completely saved, God has to hand him over to Satan, God is not willing to see man ever played with as a toy by Satan and abused by Satan, and He does not want to see man always suffering. Man was created by God, and it is perfectly justified that God rules and arranges everything of man; this is the responsibility of God, and the authority by which God rules all things! God does not permit Satan to abuse and mistreat man at will, He does not permit Satan to employ various means to lead man astray, and, moreover, He does not permit Satan to intervene in God’s sovereignty of man, nor does He allow Satan to trample and destroy the laws by which God rules all things, to say nothing of God’s great work of managing and saving mankind! Those whom God wishes to save, and those who are able to bear testimony to God, are the core and the crystallization of the work of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, as well as the price of His efforts in His six thousand years of work. How could God casually give these people to Satan?
People often worry about and are fearful of the trials of God, yet at all times they are living in Satan’s snare, and living in perilous territory in which they are attacked and abused by Satan—yet they know not fear, and are unperturbed. What is going on? Man’s faith in God is only limited to the things he can see. He has not the slightest appreciation of God’s love and concern for man, or of His tenderness and consideration toward man. But for a little trepidation and fear about God’s trials, judgment and chastisement, and majesty and wrath, man has not the slightest understanding of God’s good intentions. At the mention of trials, people feel as if God has ulterior motives, and some even believe that God harbors evil designs, unaware of what God will actually do to them; thus, at the same time as crying out obedience to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, they do all they can to resist and oppose God’s sovereignty over man and arrangements for man, for they believe that if they are not careful they will be misled by God, that if they don’t keep a grip on their own fate then all that they have could be taken by God, and their life could even be ended. Man is in Satan’s camp, but he never worries about being abused by Satan, and he is abused by Satan but never fears being taken captive by Satan. He keeps saying that he accepts God’s salvation, yet has never trusted in God or believed that God will truly save man from the claws of Satan. If, like Job, man is able to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and can give his entire being to the hands of God, then will man’s end not be the same as Job’s—the receipt of God’s blessings? If man is able to accept and submit to God’s rule, what is there to lose? And thus, I suggest that you be careful in your actions, and cautious toward everything that is about to come upon you. Do not be rash or impulsive, and do not treat God and the people, matters, and objects He has arranged for you as the urge takes you, or according to your natural self, or your imaginations and conceptions; you must be cautious in your actions, and must pray and seek more, to avoid inciting the wrath of God. Remember this!
Next, we will look at how Job was after his trials.
5. Job After His Trials
(Job 42:7–9) And it was so, that after Jehovah had spoken these words to Job, Jehovah said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has. Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of Me the thing which is right, like My servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as Jehovah commanded them: Jehovah also accepted Job.
(Job 42:10) And Jehovah turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also Jehovah gave Job twice as much as he had before.
(Job 42:12) So Jehovah blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
(Job 42:17) So Job died, being old and full of days.
Those Who Fear God and Shun Evil Are Looked Upon With Cherishment by God, While Those Who Are Foolish Are Seen as Lowly by God
In Job 42:7–9, God says that Job is His servant. His use of the term “servant” to refer to Job demonstrates Job’s importance in His heart; though God did not call Job something more esteemed, this appellation had no bearing on Job’s importance within God’s heart. “Servant” here is God’s nickname for Job. God’s multiple references to “my servant Job” show how He was pleased with Job, and although God did not speak of the meaning behind the word “servant,” God’s definition of the word “servant” can be seen from His words in this passage of scripture. God first said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has.” These words are the first time that God had openly told people that He accepted all that was said and done by Job after God’s trials of him, and are the first time that He had openly confirmed the accuracy and correctness of all that Job had done and said. God was angry at Eliphaz and the others because of their incorrect, absurd discourse, because, like Job, they couldn’t see the appearance of God or hear the words He spoke in their lives, yet Job had such an accurate knowledge of God, whereas they could only blindly guess about God, violating God’s will and trying His patience in all that they did. Consequently, at the same time as accepting all that was done and said by Job, God grew wrathful toward the others, for in them He was not only unable to see any reality of fear of God, but also heard nothing of the fear of God in what they said. And so God next made the following demands of them: “Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly.” In this passage God is telling Eliphaz and the others to do something that will redeem their sins, for their folly was a sin against Jehovah God, and thus they had to make burnt offerings in order to remedy their mistakes. Burnt offerings are often offered to God, but what is unusual about these burnt offerings is that they were offered to Job. Job was accepted by God because he bore testimony to God during his trials. These friends of Job, meanwhile, were revealed during the time of his trials; because of their folly, they were condemned by God, and they incited the wrath of God, and should be punished by God—punished by making burnt offerings before Job—after which Job prayed for them to dispel God’s punishment and wrath toward them. God’s intention was to bring shame upon them, for they were not people who feared God and shunned evil, and they had condemned the integrity of Job. In one regard, God was telling them that He did not accept their actions but greatly accepted and took delight in Job; in another, God was telling them that being accepted by God elevates man before God, that man is loathed by God because of his folly, and offends God because of it, and is lowly and vile in God’s eyes. These are the definitions given by God of two types of people, they are God’s attitudes toward these two types of people, and they are God’s articulation of the worth and standing of these two types of people. Even though God called Job His servant, in God’s eyes this servant was beloved, and was bestowed with the authority to pray for others and forgive them their mistakes. This servant was able to talk directly to God and come directly before God, his status was higher and more honorable than those of others. This is the true meaning of the word “servant” spoken by God. Job was given this special honor because of his fear of God and shunning of evil, and the reason why others were not called servants by God is because they did not fear God and shun evil. These two distinctly different attitudes of God are His attitudes toward two types of people: Those who fear God and shun evil are accepted by God, and seen as precious in His eyes, while those who are foolish do not fear God, and are incapable of shunning evil, and are not able to receive God’s favor; they are often loathed and condemned by God, and are lowly in God’s eyes.
God Bestows Authority Upon Job
Job prayed for his friends, and afterward, because of Job’s prayers, God did not deal with them as befitted their folly—He did not punish them or take any retribution upon them. And why was that? Because the prayers for them of God’s servant, Job, had reached His ears; God forgave them because He accepted Job’s prayers. And what do we see in this? When God blesses someone, He gives them many rewards, and not just material ones, either: God also gives them authority, and entitles them to pray for others, and God forgets, and overlooks those people’s transgressions because He hears these prayers. This is the very authority that God gave to Job. Through Job’s prayers to halt their condemnation, Jehovah God brought shame upon those foolish people—which, of course, was His special punishment for Eliphaz and the others.
Job Is Once More Blessed by God, and Is Never Again Accused by Satan
Among the utterances of Jehovah God are the words that “you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has.” What was it that Job had said? It was what we talked about previously, as well as the many pages of words in the Book of Job that Job is recorded as having spoken. In all of these many pages of words, Job never once has any complaints or misgivings about God. He simply awaits the outcome. It is this waiting which is his attitude of obedience, as a result of which, and as a result of the words he said to God, Job was accepted by God. When he endured trials and suffered hardship, God was by his side, and although his hardship was not lessened by God’s presence, God saw what He wished to see, and heard what He wished to hear. Every one of Job’s actions and words reached the eyes and ears of God; God heard, and He saw—and this is fact. Job’s knowledge of God, and his thoughts about God in his heart at that time, during that period, were not actually as specific as those of the people of today, but in the context of the time, God still recognized all that he had said, because his behavior and the thoughts in his heart, and what he had expressed and revealed, were sufficient for His requirements. During the time that Job was subjected to trials, that which he thought in his heart and resolved to do showed God an outcome, one that was satisfactory to God, and afterward God took away Job’s trials, Job emerged from his troubles, and his trials were gone and never again befell him. Because Job had already been subjected to trials, and had stood firm during these trials, and completely triumphed over Satan, God gave him the blessings that he so rightfully deserved. As recorded in Job 42:10, 12, Job was blessed once again, and was blessed with more than the first instance. At this time Satan had withdrawn, and no longer said or did anything, and from then onward Job was no longer interfered with or attacked by Satan, and Satan no longer made accusations against God’s blessings of Job.
Job Spends the Latter Half of His Life Amid God’s Blessings
Although His blessings of that time were only limited to sheep, cattle, camels, material assets, and so on, the blessings that God wished to bestow upon Job in His heart were far more than this. At the time were there recorded what kind of eternal promises God wished to give Job? In His blessings of Job, God did not mention or touch upon his end, and regardless of what importance or position Job held within God’s heart, in sum God was discerning in His blessings. God did not announce Job’s end. What does this mean? At that time, when God’s plan had yet to reach the point of the proclamation of man’s end, the plan had yet to enter the final stage of His work, God made no mention of the end, merely bestowing material blessings upon man. What this means is that the latter half of Job’s life was passed amid God’s blessings, which was what made him different to other people—but like them he aged, and like any normal person the day came when he said goodbye to the world. Thus is it recorded that “So Job died, being old and full of days” (Job 42:17). What is the meaning of “died … full of days” here? In the era before God proclaimed the end, God set a life expectancy for Job, and when that age had been reached He allowed Job to naturally depart from this world. From Job’s second blessing until his death, God did not add any more hardship. To God, Job’s death was natural, and also necessary, it was something very normal, and neither a judgment nor a condemnation. While he was alive, Job worshiped and feared God; with regard to what sort of end he had following his death, God said nothing, nor made any comment about it. God is judicious in what He says and does, and the content and principles of His words and actions are according to the stage of His work and the period in which He is working. What kind of end did someone such as Job have in God’s heart? Had God reached any kind of decision in His heart? Of course He had! It’s just that this was unknown by man; God did not want to tell man, nor did He have any intention of telling man. And thus, superficially speaking, Job died full of days, and such was the life of Job.
The Price Lived Out by Job During His Lifetime
Did Job live a life of value? Where was the value? Why is it said that he lived a life of value? To man, what was his value? From the viewpoint of man, he represented the mankind whom God wishes to save, in bearing a resounding testimony to God before Satan and the people of the world. He fulfilled the duty that ought to be fulfilled by a creature of God, and set an exemplar, and acted as a model, for all those whom God wishes to save, allowing people to see that it is entirely possible to triumph over Satan by relying on God. And what was his value to God? To God, the value of Job’s life lay in his ability to fear God, worship God, testify to the deeds of God, and praise the deeds of God, bringing God comfort and something to enjoy; to God, the value of Job’s life was also in how, before his death, Job experienced trials and triumphed over Satan, and bore resounding testimony to God before Satan and the people of the world, glorifying God among mankind, comforting God’s heart, and allowing God’s eager heart to behold an outcome, and see hope. His testimony set a precedent for the ability to stand firm in one’s testimony to God, and for being able to shame Satan in behalf of God, in God’s work of managing mankind. Is this not the value of Job’s life? Job brought comfort to God’s heart, he gave God a foretaste of the delight of being glorified, and provided a wonderful beginning for God’s management plan. And from this point onward the name of Job became a symbol for the glorification of God, and a sign of mankind’s triumph over Satan. What Job lived out during his lifetime and his remarkable triumph over Satan will forever be cherished by God, and his perfection, uprightness, and fear of God will be venerated and emulated by generations to come. He will forever be cherished by God like a flawless, luminous pearl, and so too is he worth treasuring by man!
Next, let us look at God’s work during the Age of Law.
D. The Regulations of the Age of Law
1. The Ten Commandments
2. The Principles for Building Altars
3. Regulations for the Treatment of Servants
4. Regulations for Theft and Compensation
5. Keeping the Sabbath Year and the Three Feasts
6. Regulations for the Sabbath Day
7. Regulations for Offerings
a. Burnt Offerings
b. Grain Offerings
c. Peace Offerings
d. Sin Offerings
e. Trespass Offerings
f. Regulations for Offerings by Priests (Aaron and His Sons Are Ordered to Comply)
1) Burnt Offerings by Priests
2) Grain Offerings by Priests
3) Sin Offerings by Priests
4) Trespass Offerings by Priests
5) Peace Offerings by Priests
8. Regulations for the Eating of Offerings by Priests
9. Clean and Unclean Animals (Those Which Can and Cannot Be Eaten)
10. Regulations for the Purification of Women Following Childbirth
11. Standards for the Examination of Leprosy
12. Regulations for Those Who Have Been Healed of Leprosy
13. Regulations for Cleansing Infected Houses
14. Regulations for Those Suffering From Abnormal Discharges
15. The Day of Atonement That Must Be Observed Once a Year
16. Rules for the Slaughtering of Cattle and Sheep
17. The Prohibition of Following Detestable Practices of Gentiles (Not Committing Incest, and So On)
18. Regulations That Must Be Followed by the People (“You shall be holy: for I Jehovah your God am holy.”)
19. The Execution of Those Who Sacrifice Their Children to Molech
20. Regulations for the Punishment of the Crime of Adultery
21. Rules That Should Be Observed by Priests (Rules for Their Everyday Behavior, Rules for the Consumption of Holy Things, Rules for Making Offerings, and So On)
22. Feasts That Should Be Observed (the Sabbath Day, Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and So On)
23. Other Regulations (Burning the Lamps, the Year of Jubilee, the Redemption of the Land, Making Vows, the Offering of Tithes, and So On)
The Regulations of the Age of Law Are the Real Proof of God’s Direction of All Mankind
So, you’ve read these regulations and principles of the Age of Law, yes? Do the regulations encompass a broad range? First, they cover the Ten Commandments, after which are the regulations for how to build altars, and so on. These are followed by regulations for keeping the Sabbath and observing the three feasts, after which are the regulations for offerings. Did you see how many types of offerings there are? There are burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and so on, which are followed by regulations for priests’ offerings, including burnt offerings and grain offerings by priests, and other kinds of offerings. The eighth regulations are for the eating of offerings by priests, and then there are regulations for what should be observed during people’s lives. There are stipulations for many aspects of people’s lives, such as the regulations for what they may or may not eat, for the purification of women following childbirth, and for those who have been healed of leprosy. In these regulations, God goes so far as to speak about disease, and there are even rules for the slaughter of sheep and cattle, and so on. Sheep and cattle were created by God, and you should slaughter them however God tells you to; there is, without doubt, reason to God’s words, it is undoubtedly right to act as decreed by God, and surely of benefit to people! There are also feasts and rules to be observed, such as the Sabbath day, Passover, and more—God spoke of all of these. Let us look at the final ones: other regulations—burning the lamps, the Year of Jubilee, the redemption of the land, making vows, the offering of tithes, and so on. Do these encompass a broad range? The first thing to be talked of is the issue of people’s offerings, then there are regulations for theft and compensation, and the observation of the Sabbath day…; every one of life’s details is involved. Which is to say, when God began the official work of His management plan, He set down many regulations that were to be followed by man. These regulations were in order to allow man to lead the normal life of man on earth, a normal life of man that is inseparable from God and His guidance. God first told man how to make altars, how to set up the altars. After that, He told man how to make offerings, and established how man was to live—what he was to pay attention to in life, what he was to abide by, what he should and should not do. What God set out for man was all-embracing, and with these customs, regulations, and principles He standardized people’s behavior, guided their lives, guided their initiation to the laws of God, guided them to come before the altar of God, guided them in having a life among all the things God had made for man that was possessed of order, regularity, and moderation. God first used these simple regulations and principles to set limits for man, so that on earth man would have a normal life of worshiping God, would have the normal life of man; such is the specific content of the beginning of His six-thousand-year management plan. The regulations and rules cover a very broad content, they are the specifics of God’s guidance of mankind during the Age of Law, they had to be accepted and honored by the people who came before the Age of Law, they are a record of the work done by God during the Age of Law, and they are real proof of God’s leadership and guidance of all mankind.
Mankind Is Forever Inseparable From God’s Teachings and Provisions
In these regulations we see that God’s attitude toward His work, toward His management, and toward mankind is serious, sincere, rigorous, and responsible. He does the work He must do among mankind according to His steps, without the slightest discrepancy, speaking the words that He must speak to mankind without the slightest error or omission, allowing man to see that he is inseparable from God’s leadership, and showing him just how important all that God does and says is to mankind. Regardless of what man is like in the next age, in short, at the very beginning—during the Age of Law—God did these simple things. To God, people’s concepts of God, the world, and mankind in that age were abstract and opaque, and even though they had some conscious ideas and intentions, all of them were unclear and incorrect, and thus mankind was inseparable from God’s teachings and provisions for them. Earliest mankind knew nothing, and so God had to begin teaching man from the most superficial and basic principles for survival and regulations necessary for living, imbuing these things in the heart of man bit by bit, and giving man a gradual understanding of God, a gradual appreciation and understanding of God’s leadership, and a basic concept of the relationship between man and God, through these regulations, and through these rules, which were of words. After achieving this effect, only then was God able to, little by little, do the work that He would do later, and thus these regulations and the work done by God during the Age of Law are the bedrock of His work of saving mankind, and the first stage of work in God’s management plan. Although, prior to the work of the Age of Law, God had spoken to Adam, Eve, and their descendants, those commands and teachings were not so systematic or specific as to be issued one by one to man, and they were not written down, nor did they become regulations. That is because, at that time, God’s plan had not gone that far; only when God had led man to this step could He begin speaking these regulations of the Age of Law, and begin making man carry them out. It was a necessary process, and the outcome was inevitable. These simple customs and regulations show man the steps of God’s management work and the wisdom of God revealed in His management plan. God knows what content and means to use to begin, what means to use to continue, and what means to use to end in order that He could gain a group of people who bear testimony to Him, could gain a group of people that are of the same mind as Him. He knows what is within man, and knows what is lacking in man, He knows what He has to provide, and how He should lead man, and so too does He know what man should and should not do. Man is like a puppet: Even though he had no understanding of God’s will, he couldn’t help but be led by God’s work of management, step by step, up to today. There was no haziness in God’s heart about what He was to do; in His heart there was a very clear and vivid plan, and He carried out the work that He Himself wished to do according to His steps and His plan, progressing from the superficial to the profound. Even though He had not indicated the work that He was to do later, His subsequent work still continued to be carried out and progress in strict accordance with His plan, which is a manifestation of what God has and is, and is also the authority of God. Regardless of which stage of His management plan He is doing, His disposition and His substance represent Himself. This is absolutely true. Regardless of the age, or the stage of work, what kind of people God loves, what kind of people He loathes, His disposition and all that He has and is will never change. Even though these regulations and principles that God established during the work of the Age of Law seem very simple and superficial to people today, and even though they are easy to understand and achieve, in them there is still the wisdom of God, and there is still the disposition of God and what He has and is. For within these apparently simple regulations are expressed God’s responsibility and care toward mankind, and the exquisite substance of His thoughts, allowing man to truly realize the fact that God rules over all things and all things are controlled by His hand. No matter how much knowledge mankind masters, or how many theories or mysteries he understands, to God none of these is capable of replacing His provision to, and leadership of mankind; mankind will forever be inseparable from God’s guidance and the personal work of God. Such is the inseparable relationship between man and God. Regardless of whether God gives you a commandment, or regulation, or provides truth for you to understand His will, no matter what He does, God’s aim is to guide man to a beautiful tomorrow. The words uttered by God and the work He does are both the revelation of one aspect of His substance, and are the revelation of one aspect of His disposition and His wisdom, they are an indispensable step of His management plan. This must not be overlooked! God’s will is in whatever He does; God does not fear misplaced remarks, nor is He afraid of any of man’s conceptions or thoughts about Him. He merely does His work, and continues His management, in accordance with His management plan, unconstrained by any person, matter, or object.
OK, that’s all for today. See you next time!
November 9, 2013